How "brutal" is Maryland weather?
Damon Costantini writes to ask whether Maryland has more extreme weather than "nice" weather. Here's his note:
"Do we have more days over the course of a year in Maryland when it is considered 'very nice out' as opposed to extremes of heat or coldness?
"What I mean is, it seems like there are less times in Maryland when we say 'wow it is really nice out ' (ie, about 70-75 with a cool breeze) than there are times when we say 'ugh, it's brutal out' (ie, 100 degrees and humid or 25 degrees and freezing).
"Using an assumed general consensus on what 'nice out' is as compared to 'brutal out', do we have more brutal extremes than we have 'nice' days in Maryland? Or does it just seem that way because we possibly notice the extremes moreso than we may notice when it is nice out? "
Damon, I'd say without any hesitation whatsoever that we notice and remember the extremes more than the "nice" days. I suspect your question was prompted by the current heat wave. And reader traffic on this blog invariably peaks when we're facing a snowstorm, as we were in mid-February, or when we're enduring some other misery such as last month's rains. When the weather is benign, only the poets among us take notice.
I'm going to climb way out on a limb here, Damon and guess that you're a Maryland native. Anybody who has grown up or lived nearly anywhere else will agree with me that Maryland has the longest, nicest spring and fall of nearly anyplace in the country. Winters here are generally short and mild. I've lived and worked in New Hampshire and upstate New York, and I know what "mud season" and "lake effect snows" are. We have neither here. I've had to take my car battery inside for the night to ensure the car started in the morning; I've watched the snow piles melting in May, and witnessed the leaves turning in late August as a fragile New England summer rushes away.
Sure, we can have bouts of cold weather and ice in Maryland. Some of us can remember the bay freezing over, or record snows collapsing the roof of the railroad museum. And we know what summer heat and humidity mean.
But this is neither Plattsburgh nor New Orleans. Extreme events, while memorable, are brief and few. Mostly Maryland enjoys long seasons of gorgeous weather in spring and fall, and short, mild winters. Summers are sultry, but we adjust and learn to stay out of the mid-day sun. Sometime late in August, we almost always get a break in the heat and look forward to months of fine weather. We don't turn the AC on in earnest until June, and resist the furnace switch until November.
Weather records show we routinely see some highs in the 60s - sometimes 70s - in every winter month. Summer days in the upper 90s and 100s are pretty uncommon. Using your criteria for "brutal" - that is, 100 and above or 25 and below - here is the tally for last year:
2005 Summer days of 100 degrees or more: None
2005-2006 Winter days that never rose above 25 degrees: One.
On the other hand:
2005-2006 Winter days that reached 60 or more: 11
That's my response. Readers? Any comments?